Unpredictable. Clean. Fun. They’re not necessarily the first words that would come to mind when you think of gum, but there’s no better way to clearly describe this independent west coast brand making major industry moves.
After officially launching product only six months ago, Ello Gum is taking over the west coast with its laid back fun appeal and penchant for clean design. It wasn’t an overnight success though. We got the chance to know one of the faces behind the youth-centric brand and found out just what it is that makes Ello so worth loving.
A photographer by trade and creative at heart, Brett Hillyard is the type of person one would imagine gets along with everyone. He surfs, says “rad” un-ironically and casually goes by the nickname Hilly. Hilly is also the Creative Director and Co-Owner, along with partner Jeff Moran, of Ello Gum.
When Ello first started out it was little more than a vague concept, one Hilly and Moran built around a positive lifestyle . Both saw a need for something different and wanted to focus on building a brand that seriously focused on youth culture through merchandise, charity and supporting up-and-coming athletes, artists and musicians. Three years later, it looks like their dream is finally coming into focus. Today, Ello sponsors around 30 rising surf, skate and snowboarding athletes. Their product is available at Active Ride shops all across southern California and a lot of core surf and skate shops, as well as at select 7-elevens.
It wasn’t all stickers and overnight success though. For a while, Hilly says that the company was little more than an idea and a few people who really believed in its philosophy. “For three and a half years we had athletes that really didn’t even get to try any gum… It was like just something rad that was different. It resonates,” says Hilly. “I’d say that was probably the real motivator to keep going with it, just seeing all the support…That’s been like the coolest part.”
Ello’s tag line, “be clean” shows in everything the brand does, from outreach to packaging design. As part of Ello’s goal to give back, they’ve also spearheaded the Clean Youth Project in which 1% of every Ello purchase will go toward supporting local, underprivileged youth unable to afford proper dental care. “We’re bringing a new category…Skate shops and surf shops haven’t really had a sugar-free gum ever before.”
As for the future, there are hopes to one day see Ello as a global brand. But for now, Hilly and Moran are concentrating on continuing to expand domestically. “It’s all about fun,” Hilly says. And Hilly, we couldn’t agree more.
Let us know where your career will take you, and get to know more about Ello for yourself by liking Ello Gum on Facebook and following Ello Gum on Twitter @Say_Ello and Instagram @Ello_Gum.